While some couples may see some sort of counselor or spiritual adviser before getting married, other married couples wait until they begin having difficulties to seek professional help. It's normal to have arguments and other issues in your marriage but, to make sure the small stuff doesn't snowball into something much larger, it's important to take care of your relationship and keep a few key things in mind.
We spoke to marriage counselor Terry Eagan to get his best advice for newlyweds to keep their marriage strong, healthy, and successful.
Meet the Expert
- Terry Eagan, MD, is a marriage counselor and medical director of Moonview Sanctuary in Santa Monica, California.
Communicate With Each Other
“Talk, talk, talk,” says Eagan. Communication about everything from small things, such as how you spent your day, to big things, such as how to spend your money, is vital to a healthy marriage. It helps you get to know each other better, resolve issues, and stay connected to your spouse.
Break Your Routine With Date Nights
Don’t get caught up in routines. Avoid taking each other for granted by having date nights and taking romantic vacations when you can. Refrain from just going to and from work and never focusing on each other or your relationship. When you are just going through the motions, you will feel less satisfied and less content—and that will rub off on your spouse, too. Marriage, after all, is a balance between two people.
Develop a Savings and Investment Plan Together
Avoid accruing debt. Money troubles put unnecessary stress on a marriage; in fact, it’s one of the major causes of arguments among married couples. Never spend more than you have and try to keep an eye toward the future by always having something in savings.
Dress Up for Each Other 'Just Because'
While there's no need to put on a show for each other, getting dressed up every once in a while can be a fun way to keep the romance alive. “Keep it special,” says Eagen. Looking your best is one way to tell your partner you're still attracted to them, and you prioritize maintaining the attraction between the two of you.
Be Ready for the After-Wedding Blues
Realize you may experience post-nuptial depression, which refers to the sad mood that newlyweds experience within the first three to six months of marriage. There can be a letdown after all the excitement of the wedding festivities and honeymoon is over.
Refrain from talking about the wedding all the time. Instead, go out and do things together. Understand that it takes time to reorient yourself, and keep in mind that this is just the start of your new life together.
Maintain Your Individuality
Hang onto your friends and family. Just because you’re married doesn't mean you should abandon everyone and everything that existed in your life before the wedding. You still need social outlets to re-energize yourself for your spouse. “Don’t expect your partner to be your everything,” warns Eagan.
Have a Healthy Sex Life
Sex is a vital part of the marriage relationship, so you should make sure your sex life is satisfying for both of you. If there are physical problems affecting your performance, see a doctor and discuss the situation with them as well as your spouse.
Learn to Compromise and Be Open to New Experiences
Marriage is all about compromise and maintaining an open mind. Whether you find yourself divided over holiday travel plans or personal pet peeves, do your best to meet your partner halfway. In order for your marriage to evolve over time, it's important to experience new things together as a couple.
Set Aside Time to Connect
Don't let busy schedules prevent you from spending the quality time that you deserve with your partner. Carving out 30 minutes to connect can be mutually beneficial for both of you. Whether you take up a hobby together or make it a routine to bond over coffee in the morning before heading off to work, trust us, it makes a difference.
Respect Each Other and Make Decisions Together
Treat your partner as you would like to be treated. Respect is at the core of every healthy relationship, especially marriage. Before making big decisions, always be sure to consult your partner first for their input. As they say, teamwork makes the dream work!
Say 'Yes' to Having New Adventures
Just because you're married now doesn't mean that the adventures need to stop. Keep the love alive by recreating your first date, going skydiving together, or planning a spontaneous roadtrip. It's the memories that you make early on in your marriage that will last a lifetime.
Set Realistic Expectations Early On
It goes without saying that no marriage is perfect. There are bound to be petty disagreements and bumps along the way, however, much of that can be avoided by setting realistic expectations early on. Listen to your partner, communicate your boundaries to them, and let them know when your feelings have been hurt. You can keep a marriage together by being on the same page about your expectations.
Prioritize Your Friendship With One Another
At the end of the day, you're married to your best friend. Don't forget to prioritize your friendship first. Spend time doing things together and exploring new interests—ultimately, just enjoy each other's company. The great thing about being married to your best friend is that they will always support you by being your biggest cheerleader. Through thick and thin, your partner will be there for you.
Be Open and Honest About Your Relationship
The secret to a long-lasting marriage is learning how to effectively communicate. While disagreements are inevitable in any relationship, your response can make all the difference between a positive and negative interaction. Instead of being defensive, listen to your partner and show them empathy. By validating their feelings and sharing constructive feedback, you're more likely to have an open and honest relationship.
Avoid Being Resentful by Choosing Compassion
The next time you find yourself in a tough situation with your partner, show them grace. Before jumping to conclusions or judging them unfairly, do your best to see things from their perspective. If you find yourself still struggling to do so, communicate your feelings with your partner, a therapist, or by writing them down. Keeping it bottled up inside of you is not only unhealthy, but it will lead you to develop contempt for your spouce.
Learn to Pick Your Battles
Nobody likes unnecessary confrontation, so don't sweat the small stuff. If it's a minor pet peeve or a one-time occurrence, then sometimes it's best to just let it go. However, if it's a recurring situation that you foresee snowballing into a larger issue, then that's definitely something worth discussing.
Don't Compare Your Marriage to Others
Every marriage is unique and special, so don't make the mistake of playing the comparison game. Not only is it unfair to your spouse, but it leads to unrealistic expectations. Instead, choose to highlight the qualities that made you fall in love with your person in the first place. Rather than attempt to have the perfect marriage, devote time to building a healthy, happy life together.